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Stakeholder Politics

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The war is over. The largest corporations in the world are now committed to sustainability. But, behind the public relations gloss, corporate executives and managers are perplexed. The majority of them have a genuine desire to work in an ethical and sustainable manner. Yet, when they engage with their stakeholders for that purpose, they unexpectedly encounter a world of hardball politics full of hostile activists, self-interested elites and unpredictable attacks. Unfortunately, corporate management is too often unskilled in this rough-and-tumble world. While managers rely on facts and rational analysis, their self-appointed critics have mastered the arts of political discourse, issue framing and media manipulation. At the same time, as corporations extend their global reach, their third-world stakeholder communities are beset with a variety of poverty-maintaining and sustainability-thwarting conditions. In many parts of the world, communities suffer from entrenched divisions, exclusion from power, unpredictable violence and economic dependency. In order to both reduce reputational risk and to contribute to sustainable development, companies need the equivalent of roadmaps of the socio-political terrain in their stakeholder networks.This book moves on to next challenge of giving companies what they need now: namely, "how to" guides addressing the twin problems of firstly maintaining political legitimacy (talking the talk), and, secondly, promoting sustainable development (walking the walk). They need to learn how to both play stakeholder politics and collaborate with stakeholders towards sustainability goals. Most companies have already encountered or anticipated the barriers that this book addresses, and managers will recognize the dilemmas described.Stakeholder Politics is the first book to offer a method for classifying and dealing with these socio-political problems.The book presents a typology of stakeholder networks that will help managers and community leaders identify and improve the social capital patterns in their own networks. Once they know what patterns they have, they can move their networks towards those that foster sustainable community development. The author describes vivid cases in which managers and community stakeholders have already used the approach successfully. At the same time, managers get handy tools for predicting and avoiding community-level socio-political risk around stakeholder issues: most notably, the Stakeholder 360 which has been successfully used in Canada and Australia with large groups of managers learning about stakeholder engagement.The book has been written for an audience of both managers and academics. Those working in developing countries with difficult stakeholder issues will find it indispensable.
Product Details

Table of Contents

Introduction1. Why should corporations care about sustainable development?2. The global regulation of corporations: coming soon or already here?3. Sustainability performance measurement and stakeholder relationships4. Multilateral "messes" and the three types of social capital5. Questions that measure social capital6. Collecting and analyzing social capital data7. Identifying barriers to sustainable development with the 3DSC framework8. Predicting protests in Peru9. Four years of stakeholder politics on Misima Island10. Mapping the network's values, priorities, and issues11. From social capital to inter-sectoral complementarity

Promotional Information

"Stakeholder Politics can make a real difference to your business." R. Edward Freeman When corporate management tries to engage with stakeholders, they often encounter a world of hardball politics full of hostile activists, self-interested elites and unpredictable attacks. This "how to" guide teaches managers how to both play stakeholder politics and collaborate with stakeholders towards sustainability goals - and identify and improve the social capital patterns in their own networks.

About the Author

ROBERT BOUTILIER PhD, Centre for Sustainable Community Development, Canada, is a leading expert in how companies can promote community development. Robert developed 'Stakeholder360' for measuring social capital in a company's relationships with its stakeholders.


Laying out an easy-to-follow guide on how to achieve and maintain political legitimacy on environmental matters, this title champions sustainable development and attaining good relationships in the process. Devised and written by a highly experienced researcher and environmental consultant, readers are presented with Robert Boutilier's approach as he outlines ways in which to benefit from stakeholder networking and targeting sustainability. Case studies of companies that have followed the approach highlight the successes to be gained. This title is useful for environmental academics and managers alike. - The Environmentalist 77 (5 May 2009)

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